Ads That Can Hurt Your SEO – SEO (search engine optimization) is one of the best ways to get qualified leads for your medical practice. It’s easy, cost-effective, and can have a very big ROI if your website is optimized to turn visitors into paying patients. However, the biggest drawback to SEO is the fact that it takes time to work, especially when it comes to off-page SEO like building backlinks to your site. This being the case, many practices chose to run ads for immediate results or using video ads as well. While this can be a smart move in many cases, there are also other cases in which ads can hurt your SEO and your business as a whole.
Ads vs SEO
If done correctly, both ads and SEO are comparable when it comes to being able to produce “buyer-read” leads for your practice. Even so, ads come with several advantages and disadvantages when compared to SEO. For starters, ads work instantly and can produce leads overnight. This can be good for practices that are just starting out and need to rapidly build up a patient base or practices that are focusing heavily on reputation management.
Ads are also easier to control than SEO. Depending on the network that you’re using, you can control everything from the age and location of your demographic to the income level and family structure. This can be a big advantage if you do business with a very specific demographic in a very specific location.
Despite these advantages, ads come with a few major drawbacks as well. The first is that you can lose money with ads very easily, especially if you are running them on a PPC (pay per click) network. If people click your ads on a PPC network but don’t end up becoming patients, then you lose money. The good news is that in many cases one person becoming a patient can offset many clicks from people who do not.
Another drawback is that it takes time to test your ads and discover the ones that convert. This is typically done by running two or more ads at the same time and getting rid of the ones that underperform. This being the case, your ads must be written by a competent copywriter and designed by a good graphics designer. With this in mind, you’ll need a decent-sized budget upfront to create good ads and run them until you find the ones that convert the best.
How Ads Can Hurt Your SEO
Now that you understand that ads are a moderately high risk/high reward marketing strategy compared to SEO, let’s go over some of the ways that ads can harm your SEO if used incorrectly. We’ll also cover a few tips on how you can avoid these scenarios as well.
One of the biggest SEO factors that Google and the other search engines take into account when ranking your website is its bounce rate. If someone clicks onto your site, then immediately clicks away, that would be considered a bounce. The lower your bounce rate, the better.
Now, consider how it would affect your bounce rate if your ads are getting tons of clicks but most of them bounce immediately upon landing on your website. If your ads are poorly targeted or the messaging is off, this can easily happen. That said, visitors typically bounce off a site if the ad they clicked promised something and the page they land on doesn’t deliver. To avoid this, make sure that whatever you’re promising in your ads is immediately followed up on when people reach your website.
Every ad you run is a backlink to your website. This can be a good thing if you’re running ads on high-domain authority websites such as Facebook and Google. However, if your ads appear on websites that are considered spammy or undesirable by Google and the other search engines, then the backlinks you get from them won’t be doing you any favors.
The good news is that this is something you don’t have to worry about in most cases if you’re working with an ad network. On the other hand, if you are paying people yourself to run your ads on their websites, then you want to make sure you’re avoiding sites that may not be looked upon favorably by the search engines. Once again, this usually isn’t a concern since a medical practice probably won’t be running ads on websites of ill repute anyway.
Ads on Your Site
Most medical practices don’t run ads on their own websites since it would be counterproductive in most cases. However, you should still be aware that running ads on your website can harm your SEO if not done correctly. Problems with ads that you should avoid include putting too many ads above the fold which push your useful content down, ads that offer nothing of value, and forced ad placement, such as putting them in the middle of blog posts.
The reason these ad mistakes harm your SEO is that Google gives better rankings to sites that provide good user experiences. If your ads are taking away from the user experience on your site, then Google’s algorithm will pick up on it and rank your pages lower as a result. This means that if you decide to run ads on your website, make sure that you’re following best practices so that they don’t harm your SEO efforts.
Being Smart About Ads and SEO
SEO and ads aren’t opposed to one another. Done right, ads and SEO can work together to help you get more high-quality traffic to your website so that you can grow your medical practice. Even so, you still need to understand that ads are typically fast, extensive, and moderately risky, while SEO is slow, cheap, and virtually risk-free.
If you have the budget and the know-how, running ads online can be one of the best marketing investments you ever make for your practice. However, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket by neglecting your SEO. Remember, once SEO gets going, it’s basically free advertising. If the day comes when you simply don’t have the budget to run ads, your SEO efforts can still bring in new patients virtually on autopilot.